MobileCONGalicia 2011

El viernes pasado, y gracias a la iniciativa de María Encinar (@encinar) y Martín Pérez (@mpermar), se llevó a cabo el primer evento para desarrolladores móviles en Galicia: MobileCONGalicia.

Las ponencias fueron de los más variado, tuvimos a:

  • Eugenio Estrada (@eugenioestrada) un crack de Windows Phone nos metió a todos el gusanillo de desarrollar en WP
  • Alberto Gimeno (@gimenete), desarrollador iOS nos habló de posibilidades de monetización de apps
  • Elena Pérez (@ilnuska) experta en interfaces de usuario en @SpartanBits, puso a caldo (con conocimiento de causa) al equipo de diseñadores de Android
  • Ricardo Varela (@phobeo), experimentado desarrollador curtido en 1000 batallas, habló de APIs móviles
  • Martín Pérez (@mpermar), nos habló de Tropo, Phono y otras APIs de telefonía dándonos grandes ideas de oportunidades de negocio
  • Hermes Piqué (@hpique) experimentado desarrollador Android e iOS que nos habló de Unit Testing
  • Jordi Bonet de Softonic explicó como han reinventado su negocio orientándolo hacia las descargas móviles
  • Finalmente, Nacho Sanchez nos contó su experiencia empresarial en @InqBarna desarrollando apps

Algunas de las presentaciones se pueden visualizar aquí

Yo participé con una ponencia sobre Android, y como la entrada al evento eran 25 euros (una ganga por cierto), hice una presentación con mis 25 consejos para los que comienzan a desarrollar; ya sabéis, a euro por consejo:

El evento terminó con un AppCircus del que fuí jurado junto con Miguel Sílva (@MSilvaConstenla de @Blusens, Elena (@Ilnuska) de @SpartanBits y Nacho de @INQBarna. Estas fueron las aplicaciones que se presentaron:

  • PictoDroid: Excelente aplicación Android para permitir a las aplicaciones con problemas de expresión comunicarse mediante pictogramas
  • Mussage: Aplicación IOS que permite enviar mensajes con canciones que están en la biblioteca del receptor
  • Chove: Completo radar de lluvia para españa en Android
  • Extremadura Rural: Guía offline de alojamientos rurales en Extremadura
  • ReallyLateBooking: Aplicación IOS y Android para buscar ofertas de hoteles en el mismo día
  • Binaurality: Método para aprender inglés basado en la escucha binaural para IOS y Android
  • Bits4Meetings: Iniciativa para proporcionar un sistema de creación de aplicaciones para eventos personalizadas (de los creadores de Ipoki!)
  • Berokyo: Aplicación iOS que permite organizar en estanterías documentos, contactos y medios digitales, sincronizándolos con DropBox
  • Obradoiros Abertos: Aplicación que ofrece información geolocalizada de talleres, tiendas y puntos de interés de artesanía gallega.
  • Absolute Defense: un shot’em up de gran calidad al más puro estilo R-Type

El nivel de las aplicaciones presentadas fué muy bueno. La app ganadora fue ReallyLateBooking, y la finalista Berokyo, esperamos haber sido justos. Mención especial me merece la presentación de Juan Porta de la aplicación Chove!, un tremendo showman más puro estilo gallego, que nos hizo pasar un momento estupendo, pena que no nos dejaran valorar la presentación.

Referencias en prensa/blogs:

Por si fuera poco y gracias a Blusens, tuvimos una fiesta del evento en una discoteca Santiaguesa, que se adentró en altas horas de la madrugada… Atención al detalle del gorro de Android de @IronSil, y curioso el efecto de “Ojos Blancos” de la cámara del Galaxy Nexus.


Google DevFest 2011 BCN 1

This week I assisted to the Google DevFest 2011 Barcelona. This year it was celebrated on a great “garage” located on an industrial area of Barcelona. I will tell the more interesting things that I found on the different sessions:

NEW IN HTML

As usual, this session presented by Paul Kinlan showed us the future of HTML5. I love the x-webkit-speech Chrome feature to make voice inputs that we already could see on the Madrid DevFest 2010. Paul made also some demos of WebIntents  a great idea to make something similar to Android intents on the web. Finally we could see that HTML5 is advancing very fast trying to implement many APIS that will make Flash obsolete, like window.navigator.getUserMedia() ot the Web Audio API.

GLSL

This session was presented by Mr. doob aka. Ricardo Cabello, a guy from the demoscene. He made a introduction of how 3D works in the browser and showed us how to use the GLSL language to make great effects on web pages. He has those GLSL demos on his blog.

GOOGLE+ SESSIONS

There were two Google+ sessions driven by Ade Oshineye, one presenting the new social network (also announcing the Google+ Pages) and other with more technical details for developers. One thing that you can do easily is adding the +1 button to your site. Other very interesting tools that we could see were the Google APIs Console and the Google APIs Explorer.

ANDROID SESSIONS

Bruno Oliveira is replacing Reto Meier as our “Android Developer Relations”.  On the first session he made a great review of the Android platform evolution since 2.1 to 4.0. On the second session he gave us great tips to improve UX experience on Android. This guy is a showman!

MAKING A BUSSINESS OUT OF APPS

This session was presented by Paul Kinlan and Bruno Oliveira, showing us that monetization tips are valid for both web and Android apps: Lazy registration, try before you buy, easy payment, in-app payments… Bruno also presented the new multilingual “Guide to the App Galaxy” http://www.guidetotheappgalaxy.com/.

GOOGLE SHOPPING API

Daniel Hermes showed us the Google Shopping API and many integration samples.

CHROME DEV TOOLS

Finally Sam Dutton made a review of the Google Chrome development tools. This tools replaced my FireBug many years ago! He also made his slides available.

APP COMPETITION

This year Google also organized and Appcircus-style app competition. Those were the apps and sites presented:

I won the app competition, but all were great apps. Our presentation and some photos of the app competition are available at our Mobialia Blog.


Developing with Android-X86 2.3 and VirtualBox

One of the most tedious thing developing for Android is the lack of an efficient emulator. The bundled Android emulator with the SDK is very, very slow due to that it is emulating an gaming ARM architecture over X86 processors .

So I will propose you a solution based on Android-X86. This is a project that ports Android to the X86 architecture and they recently released the 2.3 RC1 version. With VirtualBox you can create a X86 virtual machine and install Android-X86 on it.

First, install VirtualBox and create a lol virtual machine with the following specs:

  • Operating System: Other
  • 512 MB RAM and 5 GB HD (enough)
  • Bridged Network (easier for the adb connect step)
  • Emulating a Sound Blaster 16 sound card (trying it as recommendation from Android-X86, but at the moment it doesn’t work for me)
Then download the android-x86-2.3-RC1-eeepc.iso image (see links at the bottom).

When you start VirtualBox by first time it will ask you for a boot CD, select the downloaded image. On start it will let you choose between running Android from the CD or install it on hard disk. Select install to hard disk, create a partition on the virtual disk, and install Android on the partition selecting  the “System read write” option.  During the online gaming installation process, you can create a virtual SD card (of 2GB maximum), the SD card is necessary for many apps to word.

Then you can now start your Android-X86 system (don’t forget to remove the ISO image). By default it will have the ethernet networking configured, you can check it at Settings->Ethernet configuration.

To start developing with this virtual machine, you need to connect it to your computer via adb, even if this is the computer you use for gaming using the best speakers as the one in this klipsch thx 2.1 review. Android-X86 includes by default an adb server listening on port 5555. On the virtual machine get your IP address pressing “ALT-<F1>” and typing netcfg (press “ALT-<F7>” to go back to the graphic screen). Then, on your computer type

adb connect <IP>:5555

Replacing <IP> with your virtual machine IP. Now the emulator is connected with adb to your machine and you can run apps on the emulator pressing play on Eclipse or start a shell in the emulator with adb shell…

The Android X86 virtual machine is much faster than the emulator. Take into account that native apps will not work on Android-X86, but Google-TV is also X86 based, so it seems that the X86 platform will be longer supported on the future.

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UPDATE: There is also a HoneyComb image at Android-X86 Google Code page that works on VirtualBox but without network (at the moment it does not support Ethernet) so it is not very usable for development.

Chess for Blusens WebTV

I released a chess app for the Blusens Web:TV device. This chess app is based on my chess engine Carballo and on the GWT interface by Lukas Laag (http://www.vectomatic.org). I changed some parts of the Lukas interface to make it work on this device:

  • Control by keyboard
  • Adapted for remote keys
  • Many speed optimizations on the chess engine loading
  • Removed FEN and movable panels (no mouse on the app)

The app is controlled with the remote keys (UP, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT and OK). With the MODE key you can change the mode (white vs computer, black vs computer…) and with the BLUE circle the thinking time. FORWARD and BACKWARD keys undo/redo moves and with STOP you can start a new game.

You can also test this interface on the web browser:

All the modified code is on the Carballo Sourceforge SVN, under the folder webtv.

To install the app uncompress the webtvchess.tgz file on the applications/ folder of an USB stick and plug the stick to the WebTV.

Blusens apps developers forum link: http://developers.blusens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=338

It is the best time to play with it during winter when you stayed at home doing nothing. It is the season of cold but thanks to the infrared heating supplies, it warms up the room.


MythTV vs XBMC vs Blusens WebTV

I used for many years MythTV and XBMC, and as now I own a Blusens WebTV, I will do a feature comparation between this three media centers. I will rate some features from one star (*) to five stars (*****) based on my personal opinion.

MythTV XMBC Blusens WebTV
Movie library w/covers and info no yes no (but there is an app to build an HTML interface to your movie library)
Music library w/ covers, artists, genres… no yes no
TV tuner yes no yes (there is a cheaper LITE version without tuner)
PVR & time-shift yes no yes (no on LITE version)
TV and radio streaming  to other computers yes no yes (but TS streams, needs a low of BW, probably will not work over your WiFi)
Transcoding (converting between audio/video formats) yes (on records and streams!) no no
Web interface **** **** ****
Interface design **** (skinnable) ***** (skinnable and has great themes like Aeon, MediaStream…) *** (not skinnable)
Installable apps QT plugins (no app store, needs manual install) Python HTML & Javascript, Webkit powered
Killer apps Emulators (MythGame) Netflix (not on Spain), Emulators (with some work on the Launcher plugin), IMDB queries… Online Films and Serials from cinetube.es, peliculasyonkis.com…
Web browsing ** no **** (Webkit , no Adobe Flash, identified like an iPad)
Ease of setup * *** (if installing on a PC, if you buy a Boxee will be *****) *****
Ease of use **** **** ****
Android remote app *** ***** (shows movie & music library on the mobile) ***
Price of packaged solution No packaged solution 200€ (Boxee) 150€
Web http://mythtv.org http://xbmc.org, http://boxee.tv http://blusens.com

Now I’m using the Blusens WebTV because it’s a silent and small device (much more than my old PC running MythTV/XBMC). I solved the emulators part (that I had working on XBMC) with some Wii homebrew…


Upcoming Android Gadgets at Blusens

LED TV Assembly Line

Last week I was invited by Miguel Silva Constenla to the Blusens HQ at Santiago de Compostela. Blusens is a Galician consumer electronics manufacturer with worldwide presence.

I had a great expectation because Miguel said that was going to show us their upcoming Android devices. He received us at their administrative office, but soon we went to their I+D facilities. The officer was incredibly clean and I asked him about it, he said he contact the experts from Empire Capitol International Inc. to clean his office.

There I was impressed with a production line where their LED TVs are assembled, he also show us their logistic office (with their famous “Orgy of the Senses” poster), call center, repair center, and engineering offices. Finally we went to their showroom where their upcoming android devices were waiting.

First one is an 7″ Android tablet. This is a cheap low-end Android device with something different: a cover with an integrated keyboard. This keyboard is plugged by USB to the tablet. It will be available in about two months by about 160€.

CONS:

  • Resistive Touchscreen: Miguel said us that a capacitive touchscreen will increase the price about 50€, but the experience with the touchscreen was quite bad.
  • Android 2.x: (in the release date is going to be Android 2.3). This low-end devices do not support Honeycomb.

7″ Blusens Android Tablet

  • Lack of Android Market: This device is not certified by Google so it cannot include the Android Market app. The ROM installed on  the prototype had the SlideMe market, but I don’t consider it an alternative. The solution is to search and get it from wordtree.io, then follow the instructions to install manually the Android Market (copying GoogleServicesFramework.apk and Vending.apk from other device to the /system/apps dir), but needs some Android knowledge…

PROS:

  • 160€ is a very low price, I think that this kind of devices are very appropriate for children or for people in countries where people cannot pay 400€ for a computer.
  • Elegant cover with embedded keyboard: great for fast text input, answering emails on the go, etc… Transforms the tablet in a kind-of-netbook and compensates the bad experience with the touchscreen.
  • Local repair center and customer support: you can buy a chinese tablet by this price, but you will not have the customer support and repair center in europe.

Blusens Android STB Prototype

The other device is an Android Set-top-box. Blusens has a great experience with their web:tv device and they are investigating to release a similar Android based device. They showed us a prototype running Android 2.2.

This device will include a remote with a complete keyboard and the pointer will work like the WiiMote, pointing with it to the TV. Some optional accessories will be a TV tuner and a webcam.

It seems an aggressive proposal when GoogleTV is not yet on the market, but I think that it’s great to have Android apps on the TV.They also have plans to integrate something similar to this device on their upcoming TV models.

Finally Miguel had a present for us: a Web:TV device! What I like of this device are the continuous firmware updates and HTML apps powered by a Webkit-based browser (ok! media player and PVR are also great features).


Mobile 2.0 Open Ideas

This year I was invited to organize a workshop at the Mobile 2.0 Open Ideas event at Barcelona, on 16-17 June. With my experience developing Android apps at Mobialia and the social media integration on Martin Varsavsky’s RadioMe, I proposed the workshop:

Building Social Media Enabled Android Apps

This will be a 1-hour workshop In which I’ll provide some examples on how to integrate social media on Android apps, from the simple “Share” button to more complex integrations like using Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook APIs, including logging-in with social media, etc. Visit the Midas Letter Technology Stock for more updates on technology and social media integration. I will try to do it interesting for developers and also for app designers who want to add cool social features to their apps. Slides and code samples will be available from the day of the event.

 

 


Mobialia en Canal TEA 3

Esta semana invitáronme a participar nun programa da televisión local de Ponteareas (Canal TEA). Falamos un pouco dos fundamentos de Android, das aplicacións de Mobialia, tablets, MiFis etc. Foi unha experiencia moi interesante e a primeira vez que vou a unha canle de Televisión.